Today, I crashed into emotion around 10:00am. At my desk. I went to the bathroom at work and pulled myself together. I only needed to make it to lunch. The afternoons always move faster than the mornings.
It was an accident, my sudden… spell(?)
It was an accident that she died.
She was never a sickly kid, but she, from the day she was born, was sick. She was born with ureter reflux. She had four surgeries to try to correct the case and they never could fix it. She confounded her urologist, because with every consecutive surgery she should have been cured of the issue. She defied the odds (not in the good way). She struggled with chronic urinary tract infections her entire life.
In May of her 11th grade, we found out she had severe thyroid issues. They were so bad the test was run twice because the endocrinologist office thought her first test was compromised. The second test yielded the same results. They called me at work and told me she needed to start medication that day. Impossible, I told them, she was on her way to Kentucky for an archery tournament. They told me to drive to Kentucky. I was going to follow a day later anyway, they hemmed-and-hawed and told me that would be okay, but I had to promise with everything I was she would get the meds the following day. I complied.
It was later we found out she had the worst case of Thyroid disease that office had seen. The doctor was in the office with us later the following week “Had you gotten an infection, you would have died. Had you gotten a cut, you would have died…”
“You would have died…” it rang in both our ears. Especially considering her kidney issues.
Three weeks before she passed, she came down with another kidney infection and she couldn’t shake this one like she normally does. A week later, she complained her thyroid was getting big – she could feel it pushing on her throat. A week after that (the week before she passed) she went back to the doctor and they changed her meds. The day before she passed, she called me to let me know she was throwing up everything. She felt so bad.
I told her to wait to go to walk-in until the next day because she might have food poisoning or a little bug that would work itself out.
The morning before she passed, she didn’t mention how she felt. She said she stained the carpet with blueberries and she couldn’t get it clean. The morning she passed, I told her to buy Oxiclean for the blueberry stain. The next day, the police department asked me if I knew what the white powder on the carpet was.
It’s Oxiclean. She couldn’t get the blueberry stain out of the carpet. She was a house-guest and didn’t want to leave a stain behind.
But, all those signs didn’t point me to a problem. They didn’t scream “She has sepsis”. They were all normal problems someone has. She has. She had.
Over fourth of July, she’d swam the mile across our lake in the UP. She sat in the lake with us, we were enjoying her visit. She was laughing with her friend that had come up to spend the night. She took my niece on her first grown-up (?) trip across the UP to see fireworks in a town two hours away.
Since “that day” a lot of us are carrying guilt that isn’t necessary to carry. It was an accident. And that’s the end of it.
But accidents leave survivors of one order or another.
If I had known how sick she was, I could have driven to her. I would have driven any time for any distance. Any of us would have. Without question.
Those of us close to her examine the hours before her death and think “Had I only…” or “Had I not…” But no matter how you slice it, it was still an accident.
It was no one’s fault and imagining a different end or a heroic entry on the brink only makes the load heavier. No hope or wonder or wish will change the facts that sum to accident.
I crash into another swell of grief. They come in waves. Grief to peace is a process. It’s a process. It’s a process. It’s a shitty process.
I can’t pray her back. But I can pray for those that carry around the burden they have yoked upon themselves. Those that think they could have done something. I pray for us, the people that cry into our pillows at night, because that’s a pressure too heavy for any person.
There is nothing to absolve. There is no culpability to pass around. We should not find ourselves liable for sins we did not commit.
For some of us, guilt comes. Grace will follow.
We are not responsible for her loss. Our obligation lies in the future. It is our station to reflect her grace back into the world. We carry her in our hearts. We carry her in our actions.